An astronaut (from the Ancient Greek ἄστρον (astron), meaning 'star', and ναύτης (nautes), meaning 'sailor') to me, is a super cool human that excels at what they do. They also facilitate access to an unknown world with the intention of taking you to a new level. Rocket Fulfilment are our astronauts ;).
Fulfilment (for those unaware) is the process of ensuring that all the necessary steps are taken in order to deliver the goods to the customer. This includes packing, labelling, and arranging for a carrier to deliver the goods. It also involves receiving stock control, (inbounding and QC and care). It includes providing tracking orders and managing returns. All this for both our wholesale and our dtc business. It is a business that is always ‘ON’! A service that when others holiday, they cannot. One that is a 24hr game in today’s world, where Amazon is competition, and expectation for delivery is hours rather than days.
We have had the absolute pleasure of working with Avril and Sophie for the last 5 years. We met through a simple DM on Instagram, from Sophie, reaching out for new business. My natural response to a marketing or business request on a DM is guarded, usually bound with aggressive sales chat and unauthentic personability, but hers was different. A warm, genuine message that took me through to a clean, organised, and articulate website. All the qualities that you want from a fulfilment house, and a message that drove me to reply and chat further.
Propelled to a meet-and-greet, we discussed how we transition our business to work together. Ed and I try to follow our instincts on most things, backed up by data and a good business case of course, but heart has to be part of the decision. I believe that the heart is what makes good business. At this stage Rocket was at the very start of their business journey. Alice Made This was their second client (their first being the one for which they set it up). Sophie’s background in fashion production, and Avril’s in business and retail, made them very appealing to a business like ours. They were ahead of the game on their systems and automation, had killer passion and drive, and their attention to detail was (and is) impeccable. Separate to this they are a formidable pair. They have a wonderful sense of humour, skills that work in harmony, and organisation that make me look disorganised! Oh and two warehouse sausage dogs that rule the roost. We, on the flip side, are a tricky client! We don’t take up much chargeable space (jewellery is small) and we need picking and packing with immense care and attention due to the nature of our product. Rocket, embrace this every day, always with a smile, and you can see from our reviews that they are not just good, they are best-in-class.
The decision to work with Sophie and Avril was one of the easiest decisions for us. Two amazing females, excelling at what they do, building a business with empathy, that really stands out from the competition. I feel privileged to be part of their business growth and to watch them build Rocket’s team, client list, and space, year on year.
So, with their line-up of wonderful women in tow, we celebrate International Women’s Day and Rocket Fulfilment, our AMT Astronauts, without whom we would most definitely be in an orbit spin somewhere!
We caught up with Sophie and Avril to find out more about their journey.
What inspired you to start Rocket together?
We have been family friends our whole lives. Our business partnership was ultimately engineered by Avril’s dad who recognised that our respective skillsets would complement each other well. Between us, working as a team, we have all of the attributes necessary to run a successful business. The opportunity of starting a fulfilment centre was born from a historical relationship with an American company for whom we were sole distributors in Europe. As Richard Branson once said, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” We took the decision to go for it, and we’ve not looked back since.
Fulfilment is statistically a male dominated industry. Your business blow this out of the water! You champion women in your business. Tell us a bit more about why and how you have become a full female team?
Becoming an all-female team of 9 was never by design. Of course, our recruitment process has always been inclusive, and we have interviewed many men. We have also hired (and fired) a male member of staff. In fact, the large majority of applications received for warehouse operative roles are from men, typically citing their ability to ‘lift heavy’. However, this isn’t the capability that we are looking for – this doesn’t fit the job spec. What makes Rocket unique is the finer detail, the precision of ‘pretty’ presentation, the ‘women’s touch’. The understanding that every action taken within the warehouse will have an impact on our clients. With Sophie and I at the helm, we have been a huge draw for female run businesses, and for female members of staff the same. We nurture, care for, and tend to the needs of our client’s businesses. When you talk to a prospective client who is first contemplating outsourcing the fulfilment function of their business which they have grown from new, they will often refer to it as ‘their baby’ – we understand. We nurture, care for, and tend to the needs of our staff, their professional development, and their career progression. We are proud to be women’s women.
What has surprised you about running your own business?
Sophie and I went into business with a good understanding of what was going to be required of us. Our level of experience has gotten us to a place where nothing is ever really a surprise anymore. We have learnt to take things in our stride – to attempt to take positives from situations that arise, trusting the process and having faith that we can override the storms that come our way. Perhaps having an all-female team is one of the surprises that we wouldn’t have anticipated!
What are you most proud of?
We are most proud of us. We started a business in an industry which was entirely new to us only 6 years ago. We have worked relentlessly to provide a fantastic value service to our clients and a home from home for our staff. We have had to dig deep at times, demonstrate resilience and strength to build this business. It’s sometimes difficult to stop and take time to celebrate your wins. We are proud to have always conducted ourselves professionally, persistently going over and above to make sure that our clients and staff are safe and cared for to the highest standards we can possibly achieve. To know that we have always done our very best is incredibly rewarding.
Taking on clients who have had bad experiences of outsourced fulfilment centres previously and winning their trust is particularly heart-warming. Seeing our staff evolve both professionally and personally gives us pleasure. Rewarding our staff for their efforts is a great feeling. Seeing our clients grow and achieve huge wins is exciting and knowing that we are growing with them is a thrill. A recommendation is a high, so too is a five-star review, as well as winning a new account, especially now that new fulfilment centres are popping up regularly. More often than not we finish our day with a smile, and we couldn’t ask for more than that.
What are your biggest challenges?
There are two key factors which inhibit our opportunity to grow. The first is the availability of space, and the second is human resources. Inhibited growth is undoubtedly our biggest challenge, perhaps not on a business level, but for Sophie and I personally. We are incredibly passionate about what we do – running the business smoothly and building Rocket is what we live for. However, that being said, slow steady growth has ultimately guaranteed our success. We have heard horror stories of other fulfilment centres running before they can walk. Due to the cited limiting factors, we have been forced to focus upon looking after our existing clients first and foremost. Sometimes this has been as the cost of turning down a prospective client. In hindsight, everything happens for a reason, and during times in which recruitment has been incredibly challenging, our persistence and commitment to finding the right people has paid off. We couldn’t be happier with the team and the capacity that we now have.
What added value do you think a team of strong women bring to the fulfilment world?
We would hope to inspire other women to not shy away from industries which are viewed to be male dominated. In fact, male dominated industries should be viewed as a world of opportunity. We have found our niche and it’s a wonderful place to be. Our added value, our unique selling point, is undoubtedly being women. The added value that we bring to fulfilment is an unrivalled level of care and concern for everybody that we interact with.
Tell us about your relationship with Alice Made This.
AMT was Rocket’s second client. They onboarded with us at a time when there were no references or reviews available to put forward. The presentation of the warehouse was 10/10 - particularly beautiful for a warehouse being a brand-new unit, with shiny bespoke racking which had been freshly installed, carefully thought-out branding and décor, all kept wonderfully clean. But we were ultimately selling ourselves at that point. Alice and Ed purely bought into Sophie and I as individuals. So, for us, the foundation of the relationship was particularly special. It is noticeable that Sophie and I have had a real struggle relinquishing control of the account and delegating the picking and packing of the AMT orders; AMT is precious to us. We have always loved the design of AMT pieces so it’s been a real pleasure handling their jewellery, but we would both admit to having fallen further in love with the brand over time. We believe this to be a direct result of exposure to Alice’s passion and getting to know Alice and Ed as people. When you are buying AMT, you are truly buying from the most wonderful people, and we hope that we emulate this through our picking and packing so as to further consolidate the values of AMT for consumers upon receiving their beautiful items.